DEAL OF THE WEEK
Schulman’s ‘Survivors’ Goes Global
Swedish writer Alex Schulman sold his novel The Survivors to Doubleday’s Lee Boudreaux in a high-six-figure preempt. Astri von Arbin Ahlander at the Ahlander Agency, who represented Schulman, said the book has been selling in auctions around the world and has been acquired in 18 territories. She described the book as “an extraordinary literary novel with a jaw-dropping twist,” adding that it follows three brothers who have returned to their family’s lakeside cottage—the site of a life-altering disaster two decades earlier—to scatter their mother’s ashes. Told in dual narratives, with “one timeline tracing backward from the story’s dramatic finale and the other moving forward toward the inevitable moment of impact,” The Survivors is about “the relationship between the siblings” and how their “intimate bond of brotherhood opens them up for the greatest betrayal of all.”
FROM THE U.S.
St. Martin’s Is ‘Down’ with Fowler
In a seven-figure deal, Sarah Cantin at St. Martin’s Press bought North American rights to It All Comes Down to This by bestselling author Therese Anne Fowler (A Good Neighborhood) in a two-book agreement. The novel, Cantin said, is about “three adult sisters reckoning with the aftermath of their mother’s death, and the fate of a vacation home on Maine’s Mt. Desert Island—which her will mysteriously stipulates must be sold.” Wendy Sherman at Wendy Sherman Associates represented Fowler.
Gallery Appreciates Tucci’s ‘Taste’
Actor Stanley Tucci’s food memoir Taste: My Life Through Food was acquired by Alison Callahan at Gallery Books. The book, Gallery said, “will be an intimate and charming reflection of Tucci’s life and relationship to food,” touching on how he prepared for culinary-focused films like Big Night and Julie & Julia, his “falling in love over dinner,” and his home life, “where he is constantly preparing meals with his wife for their family.” Taste follows Tucci’s two other culinary books, The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table. He was represented in the North American rights agreement by both Deborah Schneider at Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners and Felicity Blunt at Curtis Brown UK.
Tor Takes on Yang’s Trilogy
Tor Books’ Lindsey Hall preempted world English rights to a science fiction trilogy by Neon Yang, a Nebula, Hugo, and Lambda Literary nominee who lives in Singapore . Yang was represented by DongWon Song at the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. The Nullvoid Chronicles, Tor said, is “a retelling of Joan of Arc’s story with a space opera, giant robot twist” and is about “the nature of truth, the power of belief, and the interplay of both in the stories we tell ourselves.” The first book in the trilogy, The Genesis of Misery, is set for 2022.
Sourcebooks, Audible Nab a Rom-Com
Mary Altman at Sourcebooks and Allison Carroll at Audible Originals have won world English rights, for print/digital and audio, respectively, to three books by Lily Chu, including her debut rom-com, The Stand In. The deals were brokered by Carrie Pestritto at the Laura Dail Literary Agency. Audible, which paid six figures, is set to release The Stand In as an Audible Original in spring 2021, and Sourcebooks will follow with its print edition in 2022. The novel, Pestritto said, follows a Chinese-Canadian woman, Gracie Reed, who is paid to impersonate a Chinese starlet who is one half of a celebrity couple. As Gracie does the job, she realizes that “she may not be able to keep up her end of the deal without losing her heart.”
Custom House Adopts Grose’s ‘Mother’
For six figures, Custom House’s Kate Nintzel bought North American rights to Jessica Grose’s All Powerful and Totally Useless: The Creation of the Ideal American Mother. The author is a parenting editor and columnist at the New York Times, and the book, Custom House said, “examines the historical, scientific and cultural ideals of parenting—and how they don’t serve us—through the lens of the author’s personal and professional experience.” Grose was represented by Elisabeth Weed at the Book Group.
Lemon’s ‘Fire’ Burns for LB
Don Lemon’s This Is the Fire was acquired by Little, Brown’s Bruce Nichols. Byrd Leavell and Albert Lee at United Talent Agency brokered the North American rights agreement. LB compared the title to recent bestsellers about race by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ibram X. Kendi, and said that in it, Lemon brings his “vast audience and experience as a reporter and as a Black man to one of the most urgent questions we face: how can we end racism in America in our lifetime?” This Is the Fire is set for March 2021.
Hargrove’s ‘Mama’ Comforts Algonquin
Amy Gash at Algonquin bought Mama: A Black, Queer Woman’s Journey to Motherhood by Nikkya Hargrove in a world rights agreement. Stacey Glick at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret represented the author, who, she said, grew up with a mother who was in and out of prison while battling an addiction to crack cocaine. When Hargrove was 24 years old, her mother died, and afterward she fought to gain custody of her baby brother. The book, Glick added, “picks up where Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy left off, following the impact of incarceration on a family and pulling back the curtain on the foster care system.” Hargrove has written for Cosmopolitan, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Mama is set for fall 2022.
Dutton Buys McFadden Memoir
Maya Ziv at Dutton bought world rights to Bernice McFadden’s memoir First Born Girls. McFadden, who has written 10 literary novels, including Sugar and the 2017 American Book Award winner The Book of Harlan, teaches creative writing at Tulane University. First Born Girls, Dutton said, “covers three generations of Black women in America, the impact of inherited trauma and family secrets, and the insistent demands of love between mothers and daughters.” Melissa Danaczko at the Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency represented McFadden.
Bestler Invests in Polish Bestseller
For her eponymous imprint at Atria, Emily Bestler bought two books by Polish bestseller Blanka Lipin´ska in a North American rights agreement. The first, 365 Days, is part of a trilogy and the basis of a Netflix film of the same name that was released in June. Atria said the novel is about “a young woman taken captive by a Mafia don with the intention that she will fall in love with him after they spend 365 days together.” 365 Days is set for January 2021, with its sequel, This Day, slated for 2022. According to Atria, Lipin´ska has sold more than 1.5 million copies of her books in Poland. She was represented by Kimberly Whalen at the Whalen Agency.
Kurian Sells Thriller to Park Row
At auction, Park Row Books’ Laura Brown won North American rights, for six figures, to Vera Kurian’s Never Saw Me Coming. The debut psychological thriller, which is set at a Washington, D.C., college and told in alternating perspectives, is slated for fall 2021. It follows a group of undergraduates who have all exhibited signs of psychopathy and who join an experimental study on campus. The situation, Park Row said, “starts to unravel when one of the program students is found murdered.” Kurian was represented by Rebecca Scherer at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the heroine of Lily Chu'ss novel The Stand In is an American teen. That is incorrect; she is a Chinese-Canadian woman.